Genomics and the Public's Health in the 21st Century

Type: Consensus Study
Topics: Biomedical and Health Research, Public Health
Board: Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice

Activity Description

During the 20th century the health of the American people improved dramatically because of public health efforts that included vaccines, improved sanitation and hygiene, and improvements in workplace safety and food safety.   We are poised at the beginning of the 21st century to take advantage of new technologies, particularly advances in human genetics, to achieve additional gains in promoting health and preventing disease.

Expanded opportunities for disease prevention may be made possible by genetics through improved disease risk assessment and earlier and more accurate diagnoses.  Public health practices may benefit; for example, genetic tests and family histories can be used to develop preventive measures such as immunizations against infectious diseases for particularly susceptible groups.

In 2004, IOM planned and conducted a workshop during which the significance of genomics to population health was explored.  Specifically, workshop speakers

  1. discussed major scientific and policy issues related to genomics;
  2. examined the major supports for and challenges to the translation of genetic research into population health benefits; and
  3. suggested approaches for the integration of genomic information into strategies for promoting health and preventing disease. 

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